The Dangers of a Summer Drought

The drought that has plagued the state of Texas for most of 2011 has been devastating. Unfortunately, neither the citizens of the state or people living elsewhere have realized or understood how monumental this drought has been until  summer. Residents of the state, its government and the federal government will remember that the summer of 2011 has brought what is arguably the worst drought in the state’s history upon nearly all of the 299 counties throughout the state. People won’t understand how devastating the dangers of a summer drought are or can be until the impact reaches their wallets.

*Loss of pastures

Ranchers count on vast amounts of open grassy fields that they can allow their cattle or other livestock to roam and graze on. A drought will dry up all of that grass, taking away an important sort of feed for livestock. The result of this may not be visible to average people for some time, but for ranchers, it means that feeding their livestock is getting increasingly difficult.

*Lower water levels

Most water sources like ponds, creeks and streams rely on rain water to keep the water levels in check. Extremely hot weather and dry conditions will cause the water levels in these important water sources to drop. That may mean that there is less water available to feed cattle. Rivers may also experience a drop in water level, and city water sources may also notice a shortage because people are continuing to use water for bathing, cooking, laundry and consumption.

When water levels are in danger, local authorities often have to issue mandatory watering bans. This means that people can’t water their yards or gardens, fill their hot tubs or swimming pools, or run sprinklers for kids to run in. It may also force public swimming pools to close in order to conserve water.

*Crop and livestock losses translate to higher food prices 

Drought inevitably results in total crop loss for farmers and ranchers. The loss of crops grown for animal feed impacts the long term availability of livestock that ultimately winds up in supermarkets. The loss of crops grown for human consumption or for production into things that are used in various foods will mean the same thing. Eventually, this leads to substantially higher food costs. 

With fewer and fewer food sources available for livestock, many ranchers are forced to make a decision that will prove to be financially devastating for them. They are forced to sell their livestock far earlier than they’d like, and because the animals aren’t as heavy as the farmers or ranchers had hoped, this may mean that they get less for selling them. When huge numbers of farmers and ranchers are forced to bring their livestock to auction at the same time, this will inevitably impact the amount of money they get for the animals.

*Loss of jobs –

Because large ranches and farms may hire people to work for them, a drought that impacts crop growth and livestock production may translate to lost jobs for people. Beyond that, it will mean that because meat processing plants have less meat to process, they won’t need as many employees. The same goes for canning companies that can fruits and vegetables.

The bottom line is that the dangers of a summer drought will eventually trickle down and affect everyone in the nation. Because of the wide range of industries that experience monetary losses, this will undoubtedly have a serious impact on the American economy. When an extraordinary summer drought extends across a state that provides so much food to the nation, this means that people will be forced to alter the way they shop for food. Because people will have to spend more money on food, they will naturally have less money to spend on other things, so ultimately, the ramifications of such a severe drought will trickle down to every sector of the economy.